The CyberBoxingZone News

Tribal Rebellion In Washington... Battle over April 1 Show at Legends Casino
Katherine Dunn

March 31,2000

(See Legends Casino Show for line-up)

With a big club show scheduled for Saturday night, April 1, at the Yakama Nation Legends Casino in Toppenish, Wa, the Yakama tribe booted the state boxing regulators off the reservation on Thursday afternoon and, as of 9 a.m. on Friday, March 31, created their own tribal regulatory commission. All perfectly legal as specified by the federal Professional Boxing Safety Act of 1996.

The Professional Athletics Division of the Wasington Deptartment of Licensing commonly regulates and taxes boxing shows at tribal casinos in Washington without any written agreements. Jeff Connors, Entertainment Manager of the Yakama Nation Legends Casino says the tribe has not been impressed with the quality of matches approved by the state agency at other shows in the state. The tribe did not approve of the state allowing inter-gender boxing in the famous October '99 show in Seattle, and did not like the general direction of the agency.

The tribe had discussed forming its own boxing commission prior to this event, but the state's "slow and arbitrary decisions" regarding this show triggered the break. Connors says the tribe had never questioned the state agency's right to approve or disapprove matches but had always questioned the agency's timeliness.

As a last-ditch negotiating stance, Connors says the tribe offered to have the state continue to assign officials and to collect the 5% tax on the ticket sales, with the tribe making all match-making and licensing decisions. The state refused.

The Washington Department of Licensing is responsible for many industries and professions, and Connors says "it's not appropriate to have the same people who issue licenses for smelt fishing and applying hair and nail laquer responsible for making potential life and death decisions about boxers."

Rumors from inside the Dept. of Licensing are that the people actually charged with making match approval decisions have OK'd Legends matches, which were then disapproved by supervisors who are less knowledgeable about the boxing business.

In this last minute crisis, the Yakama tribe has engaged the former executive director of the Oregon Commission, Bruce Anderson, to act as their consultant in devising their new agency and assuring the legal compliance of the Saturday show.

There is some concern that judges and referees licensed by the State of Washington may be sanctioned by the state for officiating on the Yakama show, so some officials are being brought in from out of state.

The Yakama tribe is currently at war on other fronts with the state of Washington. The state seizes truckloads of cigarettes on the road to the reservation where they are legally sold at a low price with no state taxes. In retaliation the tribe shut down all sales of alcoholic beverages on the large reservation, driving the state liquor control agency bonkers over lost tax revenue. The tribal move also irritated the Mothers Against Drunk Driving chapters of the nearby city of Yakima. MADD is complaining about drinkers driving the highway between the city and the reservation. Attempts by Washington government to negotiate a close to the hostilities have been fruitless.

Some observers speculate that the practices of the Department of Licensing may reflect a governmental response to the cigarette and booze dispute with the Yakama tribe.


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